From a design perspective, large open spaces or walls can be intimidating but they also present a great opportunity. Often you start with your focal point, in this case we will look at breaking up a large wall with a modern linear fireplace. The U.S. design trend for big walls seems to be ever bigger fireplaces, but we want to illustrate that you can create a dynamic design without creating an inferno! Below we present 8 different design techniques to help you create a masterpiece with your blank canvas.

1. Create Architectural Intrigue

Who says your wall has to stay flat? A large wall is the perfect opportunity to create a dramatic push and pull of architectural elements. The natural recess of your modern fireplace can be echoed by a built-in shelf or contrasted by a chunky modern mantel. The added bonus of this technique is it often leads to new spaces you can use for decoration or storage. 

E32 H by Electric Modern

Push and Pull: in this installation of an E32H electric fireplace, the minimalist mantel pushes out into the space while the built-in shelves recede into the wall creating architectural intrigue as well as practical storage.

modern gas fireplace in coco rochas home

Bidore 140 by Element4: This wall has it all – beautiful wood cabinets, a discrete television installation, a corner fireplace and even a Bowie/Prince hybrid neon art piece! What more could you ask for?


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2. Extend your Linear Fireplace without Extending your Flame.

Do you have a 20 foot wall but only a 6 foot linear fireplace? One way to break up a large wall while also bringing more emphasis to your fireplace is to extend the horizontal space your fireplace takes up. In this extended space you can create a niche for books, small sculptures or keep it empty for a more asymmetrical approach. This means you can have a smaller fireplace (read: less unnecessary heat and fuel cost) while giving your fireplace the design prominence it deserves!

Bidore 140 by Element4 designed by Randall Mars Architects

Bidore 140 by Element4: The horizontal overlap of the chunky black mantel and the grey stone make for a beautiful transition between materials and help extend the linear nature of this modern gas fireplace.

Linear gas fireplace with niche

Embrace asymmetry: sure the architect could have called for a 15′ linear fireplace to run the length of this wall, but the real question is, would that make this space any more interesting?

3. Create a Distinctive Vertical Element

Another way to accentuate a small to medium fireplace in a large space is to create a dramatic vertical element. This works particularly well for tall walls and in expansive spaces, like a hotel lobby, where the distinctive vertical element can also act as visual wayfinder for guests. In many ways, this method is a modern nod to the centralized and structural chimney/hearth utilized by architects, such as Frank Lloyd Wright, for generations. Moreover, it is also a convenient way to hide any venting that may be a required for the installation of your linear fireplace.


three sided linear gas fireplace in St. Gregory Hotel

This H Series 3 sided fireplace features an impressive custom steel vent hood. This vertical wayfinder is a subtle signifier to guests as they enter the lobby and make their way to the check-in desk. St. Gregory Hotel, Washington D.C.

3 sided fireplace modern gas fireplace

The white-washed brick of this design agency was beautiful but it needed to be visually broken up in some way. The verticality of this 3 sided gas fireplace bay-style design was the perfect solution.

4. Create Modern Storage for Logs

While many linear fireplaces today use either gas or electricity for fuel, we still cannot deny the natural beauty of rough-cut wood. By creating a modern storage for logs near your fireplace, you not only break up the large wall, but also bring a beautiful textural element to your fireplace motif. The logs can be stacked horizontally or even vertically, depending on the fireplace and desired wall composition. 

Scandinavian design and a modern electric fireplace.

Even an electric fireplace, like this E40 by European Home, can benefit from a little touch of nature.

5. Utilize Multiple Materials for your Fireplace Surround

The perfect antidote to the blank white wall may be a fireplace surround that utilizes multiple (and unexpected) materials and colors. The world is literally your palette as you introduce stone, patina or rusted metals, brick, wood, or even leather (see image below) to your fireplace surround.

Brushed Bronze metal and Nano Corten Copper tile designer fireplace surround for European Home H Series Vent Free Fireplace.

An unlikely pair: there’s just something about matching gold with a rusted (corten) metal finish. They may seem like they don’t go together, but the contrasting look is very appealing!  

Modore 240: an 8 foot linear gas fireplace with flame adjustment technology

Leather as a wall covering?  We say absolutely.  This Modore 240, 8′ linear fireplace, looks amazing next to this supple checkerboard suede.  


6. Embrace Minimalism

Not to contradict ourselves here but sometimes a predominantly clean white wall is just the ticket. Minimalism is an aesthetic in art and architecture that embraces the idea of “less is more.” With a large wall and smaller fireplace this mantra can be beautifully interpreted. Just remember, when you have less to look at every gesture and every proportion must be exacting and perfect. A small bench, simple mantle, or a single pop of color can help the viewer’s eye move around the space before it rests on a beautiful clean fireplace.

Modore 75H: direct vent fireplace with a minimalist design.

Be brave, do almost nothing, but do it extremely well.  This minimal Modore 75H installation shows off just how elegant the truly trimless lines of a fireplace can be.


7. Install a TV Above Nearby the Fireplace

Fireplaces create natural gathering spaces. During a rainy day, or a snow storm, they are places of warmth, where friends and family come together. But we would be naive to think a fireplace can keep the attention of the modern teenager all on its own. Enter: the television. Just remember, while it’s easy to plop the TV above your fireplace there may be a more elegant way to design your wall. For example, the TV could be offset or hidden by a custom cabinet so it doesn’t distract (too much) from the beauty of your linear fireplace. 

*Note you should always read all manufacturer installation manuals before installing electronics above a fireplace as excess heat could potentially cause damage.  For more information on safely installing a TV above your fireplace check out our Cool Wall Installation Guide for Element4 Fireplaces.  

Custom TV Cabinet above modern fireplace

A custom, and remote controlled, cabinet was installed to discreetly hide the television when not in use.

Bidore 140 by Element4 designed by Randall Mars Architects

No, you are not experiencing déjà vu. You have seen this photo before (earlier in this post in fact) but it was such a good example of an offset TV installation we thought it was worth a second glance.


8. Come Off the Wall to Create Depth

Think outside the box (or off the wall in this instance). Yes, we admit this last method doesn’t directly involve a wall or even a ‘linear fireplace’ exactly but stick with us for a second. A hanging fireplace is a great way to create multiple levels of depth with the large wall acting as background. This helps break away from the typical static fireplace and gives a totally new dimension and flow to your room.

An open woodburning fireplace hangs from the ceiling in this modern living room

Bathyscafocus by Focus Fires: a gorgeous example of how a hanging fireplace can add depth and even break up a large wall from certain perspectives. Plus, with this fireplace’s ability to rotate 360 degrees you always have the best seat in the house. 

Ergofocus hanging fireplace by Focus Fires

Ergofocus by Focus Fires: when your fireplace is handmade in France and suspends from the ceiling you don’t need to do much to jazz it up.  However, we love the subtle geometric wallpaper that frames this wood burning fireplace. 


This article was a collaboration by: Cory John Ploessl and Paige Huntress-Parr

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